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Hansbrough’s ability to drive to the basket and score, kick it out to the open man or hit a jumper were never more on display than his clutch 19-point, seven-assist performance in the Irish’s huge victory at Pitt, the team Notre Dame is still trying to catch to win the Big East regular-season title.

Abromaitis, a graduate student who still has eligibility remaining, said playing with Hansbrough has made it easy for him to do what he does best: shoot the ball. He hit a career-high nine 3-pointers in a 93-72 rout of Villanova on Monday night, with he and Hansbrough each scoring 30 points as the Irsh ensured a double bye in the league tournament.

“He has such great vision that, if you’re open outside of the play we’re in, he’ll be able to find you,” Abromaitis said.

Afterward, Villanova coach Jay Wright said Hansbrough _ who hit seven threes _ was the best player he’d seen all year.

“That kid just dominated the game,” he said. “He defended, he controlled the tempo. He broke the press by himself, he made shots and got everyone else shots.”

The Irish will play their final regular-season game at Connecticut on Saturday and if they don’t catch Pitt for the regular season championship would turn their attention to the Big East tournament, where they would need three wins to capture that title.

“Every time we’ve had a challenge, we’ve done it. But it’s not over yet, our home season is over and that’s it,” Hansbrough said.

Before his final home game Monday night, Hansbrough posed for a picture with his family and good-naturedly elbowed Tyler in the stomach as they began to push each other for position. Like all those years competing in Poplar Bluff.

“That’s just Ben. He’s a goofball and he was joking and had to get that laugh in,” said Tyler Hansbrough, who has enjoyed watching his kid brother excel at the college game a few hours up the road from Indianapolis.

“I’ve watched Ben play a lot and it’s kind of sad because I’m not going to be able to watch him on TV, but I’m happy he went out this way. He’s really done a good job,” Tyler said.

Brothers are brothers and both Hansbroughs are known as physical players, even though Tyler is six inches taller at 6-9.

“We’ve always been competitive, but at the same time, I love playing with Ben,” Tyler said. “I played with him for two years in high school and he’s still my favorite teammate ever.”